VS 2005 Wish – Use MSBuild for VC++ Projects without VCBuild???

This blog has been pretty quite of late and I would attribute that to many tool vendors ramping up plans around the upcoming release of VS 2005.  We at Microsoft are no exception. In the last few days I've heard of numerous "aftermarket solutions"/powertoys that I know you guys are going to love that go on top of our development platform. 

One such project has been detailed here. Craig would like to estimate user interest in this idea and collect some feedback while he continues development.   Feel free to reply on his blog. 

Building VC projects with msbuild (without using vcbuild)

Along with DDCPX engineering improvements, I've begun spending time looking for useful tools for the VS developer community. One project I have begun is msbuild/vcbuild related. For those who aren’t familiar with msbuild, msbuild is destined to be the official build engine for MS. Instead of using makefiles or sources files, msbuild uses XML based configuration files which execute various tasks. The XML format for msbuild is used in the .(vb|cs)proj files produced by Whidbey so msbuild can be used directly with these files for command line builds.

As many people have noticed in the Whidbey betas, C# and VB project files both use msbuild XML elements. However, C++ is not fully integrated with msbuild; there are no cl or link tasks. Instead, executing msbuild blah.vcproj causes msbuild to invoke vcbuild to do the actual processing. Since this will not be changed prior to Whidbey RTM, I am working on a tool that converts .vcproj files to msbuild formatted files. Thus, a user could convert his .vcproj file to a msbuild formatted file that uses cl and link tasks (as opposed to the standard vcbuild task). Passing this file to msbuild would consequently build your C++ project without using vcbuild.

At this point, I'm continuing my prototype while I measure community interest in such a tool. So, if you are interested, please leave a comment or send me an email.


- Josh


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